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Published: Wednesday, 9/27/2006

Toledo 17th in 'hot' city report

BY TOM TROY
BLADE STAFF WRITER

Toledo is a hot midsize city for entrepreneurs and getting hotter, according to Entrepreneur Magazine's annual list of "best cities for entrepreneurs."

While the Milken Institute has said Toledo's job growth rate is one of the worst among 200 cities, Entrepreneur Magazine has a different view: It listed Toledo as No. 17 among midsized cities nationwide for 2006, continuing a trajectory first seen in 2005. Toledo ranked 84th in 2004 and 23rd in 2005.

"It basically said we are a pretty good city in which to start a business," Mayor Carty Finkbeiner said. "We have a lot more to offer entrepreneurs than we get credit for."

The rankings put Toledo ahead of other midsized Ohio cities such as Dayton-Springfield (21) and Youngstown-Warren (29).

Toledo was one of only four cities in the top 20 midsized cities that were not in the South or the Southwest.

Entrepreneur Magazine said its rankings are based on the number of companies that started four to 14 years ago and have at least five employees today and those companies' employment growth rates.

The numbers don't necessarily equate to large numbers of jobs or high-paying positions.

Mr. Finkbeiner speculated that Toledo is entrepreneur-friendly because of the affordable real estate, access to transportation, and a quality work force - "the things fledgling entrepreneurs look for."

Xunming Deng, chairman of Midwest Optoelectronics LLC, a solar panel manufacturing company in which the University of Toledo has a partial stake, said Toledo is a national center in solar energy research and development.

The magazine singled out the Midwest as failing to do enough to promote trade within the region.

Mr. Finkbeiner said he didn't want to be complacent. "There are other cities where they've got billions of dollars coming into research," he said. "We could be history a year from now if we don't build on this."

The magazine ranking appears to conflict with other analyses of Toledo's economic health. The respected California think tank Milken Institute's annual ranking of 200 metropolitan areas for job growth listed Toledo as No. 196 in 2005, and getting worse.

The Milken report considered a number of factors, including the type of jobs being lost and gained as well as wage and salary growth for one and five-year periods, and the concentration of high-tech jobs.

Contact Tom Troy at:

tomtroy@theblade.com

or 419-724-6058.



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